Publications & Posters

Dimethyl Fumarate Decreases Neurofilament Light Chain In CSF And Blood Of Treatment Naïve Relapsing Ms Patients


Sejbaek T, Nielsen HH, Penner N, Plavina T, Mendoza JP, Martin NA, Elkjaer ML, Ravnborg MH and Illes Z.

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2019 Oct 13. pii: jnnp-2019-321321. 

doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2019-321321.



In a prospective phase IV trial of the first-line oral treatment dimethyl fumarate (DMF), we examined dynamics of neurofilament light (NFL) chain in serum, plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples collected over 12 months from relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) patients. NFL changes were related to disease activity.


We examined NFL levels by single-molecule array in 88 CSF, 348 plasma and 131 sera from treatment-naïve RRMS patients (n=52), healthy controls (n=23) and a placebo group matched by age, sex and NFL (n=52). Plasma/sera were collected at baseline, and 1, 3, 6 and 12 months after DMF. CSF samples were collected at baseline and 12 months after DMF.


NFL concentration in CSF, plasma and serum correlated highly (p<0.0001 for all), but plasma levels were only 76.9% of paired serum concentration. After 12 months of DMF treatment, NFL concentration decreased by 73%, 69% and 55% in the CSF, serum and plasma (p<0.0001, respectively). Significant reduction in blood was observed after 6 and 12 months treatment compared with baseline (p<0.01 and p<0.0001, respectively) and to placebo (p<0.0001). Patients with NFL above the 807.5 pg/mL cut-off in CSF had 5.0-times relative risk of disease activity (p<0.001).


This study provides Class II evidence that first-line DMF reduces NFL in both blood and CSF after 6 months and normalises CSF levels in 73% of patients. High NFL concentration in CSF after a year reflected disease activity. NFL levels were higher in serum than in plasma, which should be considered when NFL is used as a biomarker.